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Historical Society Talk Will Uncover The Revolution



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Historical Society Talk Will Uncover The Revolution

Town Historian Daniel Cruson will discuss two archeological digs at Putnam State Park when the Newtown Historical Society meets on Monday, January 10, at 7:30 pm in the meeting room of the Cyrenius H. Booth Library.

The Continental Army under Connecticut’s own General Israel Putnam encamped on the Redding-Bethel border during the harsh winter of 1778-79. On the occasion of the centennial of the Revolution, a large part of the area became Putnam Park in 1887, creating one of the first state parks in Connecticut. When the park reopened after it had been closed for budgetary reasons in the early 1990s, the general clean-up revealed relatively undisturbed sites of the huts of the Revolutionary Army’s enlisted men.

In the fall of 1998, Daniel Cruson led a team of volunteers on the first archeological exploration of some of the enlisted men’s living quarters. A team of Joel Barlow High School anthropology students and Friends and Neighbors of Putnam Park was able to locate the undisturbed remains of an enlisted men’s hut and excavate the area scientifically, the first such examination of an undisturbed site which had ever been done in the park.

While the findings generally matched eyewitness accounts of life in the camp, they also provided surprising and important new information on life in the winter camp as well as the general layout of the camp. Mr Cruson and his crew returned in the fall of 1999 to dig an area which contained a field officer’s cabin. This effort produced quantities of personal artifacts, as well as food waste, lead dropped from a shot-casing project, and other clues to the camp life of an officer.

The two digs will be the basis of a slide presentation by Mr Cruson at the Newtown Historical Society meeting. The slides will show the progression and the process of the excavations, as well as illustrate the remains of the two types of living quarters as they were uncovered. While detailed analysis and evaluation of the artifacts are still ongoing, Mr Cruson will be able to share some of the latest surprising discoveries developed from the findings.

The program is open to the public, without charge, and refreshments will be served at its conclusion.

Daniel Cruson teaches anthropology and local history at Joel Barlow High School and has long taken a deep interest in the history, culture, and archeology of the central Fairfield County area. He is well known as a lecturer on many historical topics, and is the author of The Prehistory of Fairfield County and Newtown’s Slaves: A Case Study in Early Connecticut Rural Black History, among several other publications on local history matters, and recently edited the Newtown volume in the Images of America series.

He serves as president of the Archeological Society of Connecticut, is a former president of the Newtown Historical Society, vice president of the Easton Historical Society, and continues active membership in the Heritage Preservation Trust of Newtown and the Society of American Archeology.

For more information call the Newtown Historical Society at 426-5937. 

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